The volunteers at the 20th Udine Far East Film festival looked in wonder as the doors of the main Teatro Udine theatre opened on Friday night – and half of the visitors came out either red-eyed, wiping their eyes or still quietly sobbing. That was the effect of Be With You, the Korean adaptation of the Japanese novel of the same title by Takuji Ichikawa, and the debut work of Lee Jang-hoon, which tells the story of a father and son that are dealing with the loss of the mother, who promised to return for the rain season.
True to the tradition of Korean melodrama films, Be With You made us all laugh and fall in love – then broke our collective hearts, while simultaneously also providing a bit of comfort. That is why we were especially excited to sit down with Lee Jang-hoon to talk about his film – and it turned out that the deep-voiced Lee, with his calm(ing) presence, is as charming as his debut work.
Be with You is based on a Japanese novel, and it was made into a film in 2004. How did you come across this project, and what was it about the story that appealed to you?
I worked for a long time on this film, this is my first one and I wanted to focus on a story that was very important for me, because this novel helped me during a difficult time in my life — this novel gave me strength. Above all, the most important thing in this novel is the message that you don’t need to feel pity for your family, and that, instead, you should stay near them and help them. This is very important to me, because I was in a similar situation.
This is your directorial debut, so what was the experience of making the film like for you?
I have been dreaming of the moment when I would be working on a film set, and shooting with actors, for such a long time. It took one year to finish the film after I had cast the actors, and the whole time it felt like a dream. Every moment on set was incredible, and I didn’t even want it to end. I never yelled at anyone, or cursed at them, because I was always happy on set. Even my crew was surprised about that, because there is no director like that in Korea. I enjoyed every second I was there on the set. (…)
You can read the rest of this interview on View of Korean Cinema.
We would like to thank Jang Hang-jun for kindly taking the time to answer our questions, and the Udine Far East Film Festival team for arranging the interview.
Written and edited by Sanja Struna (View of Korean Cinema)
Interview transcription by Maggie Gogler (View of the Arts & View of Korean Cinema) and Roxy Simons (MyM Buzz)
Interviewed by Sanja Struna (View of Korean Cinema) and Roxy Simons (MyM Buzz)
‘Be With You’ photos © Lotte Entertainment
Cover photo © Sanja Struna